There are a lot of women taking to social media and blogs lately to discuss their increasing concern regarding female representation within British politics. A lot of us are metaphorically scratching our heads and wondering which party to align ourselves with in order to feel properly represented and others, myself included, feel so overwhelmingly disenchanted by the overt lack of female representation within politics that we are considering abstaining from voting altogether. According to those in the know, roughly nine million women refrained from voting during the last general election, the majority of those being of the younger population. It bodes the question, why does politics insist on not representing half of the population? Apparently, Labour have the answer and it looks like it comes in the form of a giant vagina on wheels.
Perhaps this isn’t the most important thing to take issue with, and I may be the only person who feels this way, but I feel that the bus is hugely patronising and, if I’m honest, quite offensive. Whilst I imagine that the thought process behind the bus was well intentioned, I feel that it creates far more issues towards women like me who were disenfranchised with British politics to begin with. A giant pink bus, I feel, only further alienates me from the voting process and a lot of it does, admittedly, have to do with the colour. Harman has openly argued that the colour is the most appropriate representation of their aims with regards to recruiting female voters, but I can’t help thinking that it is entirely counterproductive and creates a more specific and gaping gender gap than the one that already exists. To me, it feels that Labour are insinuating that female voters are different from regular voters.
In essence, Labour have single-handedly landed themselves a specific ‘niche’ target in the form of half of the population by highlighting concepts within their political aim that seemingly only affect women. Harman stated to the Telepgraph that: “I don’t think it’s at all patronising to recognise that women have got different patterns of their working lives, there’s different patterns in families between what women do and what men do. That is to recognise the reality and to say public policy needs to address that.” Which, if anything, just goes to prove how out of touch with reality that Harman and Labour truly are: To suggest that child care, equal pay and domestic violence are female specific issues is only further highlighting the massive misrepresentation of women within our country. This Labour voting tactic that is supposed to appeal to women on a higher level than their adversaries, only further seems to represent the over-arching patriarchal ideologies within our political voting system that disenchanted over nine million voters during the last general election; these issues are not gender specific issues that need to be addressed by women – these are overwhelming issues that have been apparent within our country for decades without being acknowledged by men within government bodies and personally, I find that it is these men that need targeting and not this ‘niche’ (and by niche, I mean that tiny proportion of women that represent half of the country. If you can’t detect my sarcasm, then read it again).
As far as political tactics go, I find this one to be the most offensive. An attempt to reengage female voters is a fantastic idea, but the truth is, reengagement of a disenfranchised body of women that represents over nine million people (perhaps increasing, I’m not sure) by driving around in a vagina bus is only highlighting that the government, whether they be elected or not, have no idea how to appropriately represent women, because they keep seeing us as women specifically. We are voters and the issues that are at the forefront of the woman to woman vagina bus campaign are incredibly important, but we’re not the people Labour need to be targeting. We know that equal pay is a horrendous issue within our country and we know that we are at a financial disadvantage when we perform the same job as men; it’s men and business owners and people like David Cameron whose blatant refusal to acknowledge this wage gap is the issue. The sheer cost of child care isn’t something that only affects mummy, it’s a cost that effects the whole family, meaning daddy needs to acknowledge and support child care reforms too. Domestic violence is an issue that affects both men and women, not only as victims, but as perpetrators too – in short, these are not female specific issues that that is where Harman and her merry band of idiots has gone wrong.
Instead of a vagina bus that highlights gender stereotypes (because all women resonate with and respond positively to a fluffy pink, girly bus!), surely in order to reengage female voters, specifically young female voters, is to highlight the inaccuracies, hypocrisies and blatant lack of gender equality within political systems. Passing things off as ‘female issues’ is only further representative of women not being taken seriously within politics. It highlights the gaping chasm that is gender equality within our country and only further emphasises that issues such as equal pay, child care and domestic violence aren’t taken seriously at all by governing bodies. I get the theory behind Labour’s vagina bus, I really do, but I feel that the only real goal it has achieved today is to further slam another nail in the Labour coffin: They are not only out of touch with their traditions and roots, they are out of touch with half of their voting population too and the main lesson I’ve learned today is that a vote for labour is a vote for the demise of common sense.